Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

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This chapter focuses on the interviews with relationship professionals working with or for separated parents and their children outside of the mediation context, outlining whether, in principle, they believed that young people ought to be given a voice in the decision-making when parents separate and the psychological, wellbeing and agency benefits (and risks) of doing so. It also explores their views on child-inclusive mediation’s role in giving young people a voice. Its analysis compares these views with those of young people in focus groups on these questions.

Open access
The Right to Be Heard
Authors: and

ePDF and ePUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

Recent legislative changes in England and Wales have eroded children’s ability to exercise their article 12 UNCRC rights to information, consultation and representation when parents separate. However, children’s voices may be heard through child-inclusive mediation (CIM).

Considered from a children’s rights perspective, this book provides a critical socio-legal account of CIM practice. It draws on in-depth interviews with relationship professionals, mediators, parents and children, to consider the experiences, risks and benefits of CIM. It investigates obstacles to greater uptake of CIM and its role in improving children’s wellbeing and agency.

Exploring the culture and practice changes necessary for a more routine application of CIM, the book demonstrates how reconceptualising CIM through a children’s rights framework could help to address barriers and improve outcomes for children.

Open access
Authors: and

This chapter draws together the themes and arguments made in the preceding chapters to consider the conceptual, legal and practical changes needed to build a family justice system that has mediation at its centre but which is fully compliant with article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Its primary conclusion based on the Healthy Relationship Transitions study is that there are compelling arguments for moving towards a family justice system that fully respects children’s voices when parents separate in line with their article 12 rights, if only to improve their wellbeing and mental health. Whislt incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law must be the long term goal, it considers how child-inclusive mediation can be used to change the culture to accept children’s rights and test how a system can in practice take children’s information, consultation and participation rights seriously, ensuring young people exercise appropriate agency. Alongside statutory and practice reforms, it concludes such a move towards a relational family approach can, in the short to medium term, achieve a rights balance between children and parents, not present within the prevailing parental autonomy discourse.

Open access
Authors: and

This chapter explores how, despite the UK’s international obligations to afford young people mechanisms through which to express their views when parents separate, the lack of automatic rights for young people to be heard in mediation curtails their ability to exercise their article 12 rights and agency, creating an effective barrier to greater child-inclusive mediation (CIM) uptake. It explains how there is general unawareness that children have such rights and there are four further critical impediments to greater uptake: a lack of consensus on the purpose(s) of CIM; systemic barriers such as costs and lack of awareness of accessible information about the CIM process for parents and/or children; lack of practitioner confidence, in both the process and ability to deliver CIM well; and the gatekeeping roles of both mediators and then the parents, considering these impediments in turn.

Open access
Authors: and

This chapter sets out our analysis and findings from the authors’ Healthy Relationship Transitions study concerning differences between mediators in how the CIM is conducted. It goes on to outline the views of the young people in the focus groups and interviews in the study on age restrictions on CIM. It then explores how satisfied young people (and parents) were with the process of CIM.

Open access
Authors: and

This chapter sets out the aims for the book as a whole and its structure. It explains it will explore the law, theory and practice of family dispute resolution from a children’s rights perspective, with a particular focus on the value of child-inclusive mediation (CIM). It sets out how it draws on new empirical research where, for the first time, children who had experienced CIM were interviewed alongside their parents, mediators, other relationship professionals and wider groups of young people. It indicates that the book will examine this process through the lens of the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and suggests that a shift away from parental autonomy-driven mediation to a process underpinned by a relational family mediation approach, which includes children’s views directly, might begin to fulfil children’s international law rights, as examined in the subsequent chapters.

Open access
Authors: and

This chapter sets out our findings regarding which families were able to resolve matters in child-inclusive mediation. It reflects on the extent to which the child’s views had been acted upon and informed agreements reached about child arrangements to consider whether Lundy’s fourth requirement of an article 12 compliant service for children whose parents separate, ‘influence’ (Lundy, 2007: 937), was met. It further discusses, then compares, young people and parents’ satisfaction with outcomes and the longer-term impact on the family and family relationships. For the minority dissatisfied with the outcome, it concludes by reflecting on what seemed to be driving their disappointment.

Open access
Authors: and

In Chapter Six, the book concludes by arguing for a broad approach to open justice that recognises the importance of public participation in a model of justice system accountability and does not wholly rely on the news media as a proxy for transparency.

The authors suggest implementing more nuanced and evidence-based approaches to open justice that respond to advances in digital technologies and, in doing so, also attempt to lessen systemic and individualistic harms, including stigmatisation. Recommendations centre on widening public interest court reporting, improving justice data availability and accountability, and increasing resources and investment in the facilitation of public access.

Such an approach prioritises public legal education and access to justice, as well as effective scrutiny of the criminal justice system. The authors contend that the practical application of open justice demands regular scrutiny and debate, to take account of changes in the way that society and the courts work. Overall, their work demonstrates how the principle can be effectively dissected, by attending to the practical realities of its application, and by testing its objectives through socio-legal research.

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Chapter Two provides historical context on the way in which open justice and accountability have developed in England and Wales. It considers modes of accountability in the criminal process, public participation in the criminal courts, and its development in recent decades.

It looks at the place of open justice in a wider tradition of justice system accountability, sitting alongside and underpinning other important tools. As part of this exercise, the authors detail the main methods for contemporary observation of physical criminal court hearings and access to different information types, drawing attention to the main obstacles and gatekeepers.

They also explore the main theoretical rationales for the contemporary approach to open justice which, it is suggested, can be categorised as punitive (shaming), deterring, educational, scrutable (ensuring fairness and proper conduct). The chapter then critiques these various arguments, proposing that understandings of justice system accountability need to recognise their weaknesses and strengths.

The authors introduce one of their core arguments, that policy and law makers should prioritise informational transparency as a means of scrutiny and education, rather than as a means of an individual’s punishment and deterrence.

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Chapter Five draws attention to a much-overlooked aspect of open justice: the implications and side-effects of publicity, arising from both the availability and unavailability of information. Some of these effects have been amplified by digital technology, such as the development of global search engines which are perceived to create indefinite online records of individuals’ criminal convictions.

Undoubtedly, there is a cost and human impact to publicity of criminal court proceedings, whether it is justified as unavoidable collateral harm of the process – or seen as an unwarranted and damaging intrusion of privacy. But equally, in other contexts, there can be a cost for freedom of expression and access to justice in the absence of information.

Though the authors cannot offer full answers based on their preliminary research on the impact of publicity on defendants in the criminal courts (indeed, they contend, some tensions between privacy and transparency can never be ironed out), they propose that systems should be designed to maximise equal and fair outcomes; minimise unnecessary stigmatisation and intrusion on the individuals; and avoid further entrenching existing societal exclusion and inequalities.

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